6 Questions To Help You See Visual Processing Disorder Clearly
Answers, Resources, and More
A child with visual perception problems may learn best through the auditory channel. Children who look out the corner of their eye while reading often have visual processing problems. Suspect a visual processing problem in children who finger-flick in front of their eyes, or hate either fluorescent lights or escalators. To some of these individuals the world looks like it is viewed through a kaleidoscope: flat, without depth perception, and broken into pieces. For others, it is like looking through a small tube, seeing only the small circle of vision directly in front of them, with no peripheral vision.
Our job, whether we are a therapist, parent, or person with autism, is to learn about the information and sensory processing difficulties associated with the spectrum.
Once we learn about these conditions, we can identify solutions for these problems.
I’m not a neuropsychologist, an optometrist, or an occupational therapist.
I’m a counselor.
But I’ve read quite a few articles to share this information with you.
Please share additional information in the comments at the end of this article if you’d like me to edit or add to this article.
6 Questions To Help You See Visual Processing Disorder Clearly
1. What Is Visual Processing Disorder?
According to LDOnline:
A visual processing, or perceptual, disorder refers to a hindered ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes. This is different from problems involving sight or sharpness of vision. Difficulties with visual processing affect how visual information is interpreted, or processed by the brain.
2. How Common Is Visual Processing Disorder For Autistic People?
Dr. Sandra Tosta, PhD, in her article, The Autistic Child, More Than Meets The Eye, cited a 2012 study (Ikeda J, Davitt BV, Ultmann M, Maxim R, & Cruz OA (2012). Brief Report: Incidence of Ophthalmologic Disorders in Children with Autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders).
In a study published in the Journal of Autism Developmental Disorders in 2012, the authors reported finding ophthalmologic pathology in 40% of patients with autism, leading them to conclude that “children with autism or a related disorder will frequently have an ophthalmologic abnormality."
(Credit to the article: Block quotes that follow come from LD’s above article)
1. Visual Discrimination Issues.
If your visual discrimination is intact, you have no difficulties noticing and comparing features from one word or object to another.
If, however, you struggle with visual discrimination, you may struggle to tell the difference between similar letters, shapes, or objects.
Or you may struggle to notice the similarities and differences between certain colors, shapes, and patterns.
2. Visual Figure-Ground Discrimination.
Instead of being able to pick out a shape or printed character from its background, you may struggle with:
Finding a specific bit of information on a printed page full of words and numbers
Seeing an image within a competing background
3. Visual Sequencing Issues.
If you struggle with visual sequencing issues, instead of being able to see and distinguish the order of symbols, words or images, you may have difficulties:
Using a separate answer sheet
Staying in the right place while reading a paragraph. Example: skipping lines, reading the same line over and over
Reversing or misreading letters, numbers and words
Understanding math equations
4. Visual-Motor Processing Issues.
Visual-motor processing refers to the skill of using our eyes to coordinate the movement of other parts of our bodies.
If you or I struggle with visual-motor processing, others will observe our difficulties:
Writing within lines or margins of a piece of paper
Copying from a board or book
Moving around without bumping into things
Participating in sports that require well-timed and precise movements in space
5. Long or Short Term Visual Processing Issues.
Long-term visual memory helps us remember things/events/facts in the past. Short-term memory helps us remember something seen very recently.
If I struggle with long or short-term visual processing issues, I’ll have trouble:
Remembering the spelling of familiar words with irregular spelling
Using a calculator or keyboard with speed and accuracy
Remembering phone numbers
6. Visual Spatial Cues Issues
If your visual spatial cue ability is working correctly, you’ll be able to understand how objects are positioned in space in relation to yourself. This involves depth perception, as well as the relationship of objects described on paper or in a spoken narrative.
If you struggle with visual spatial cues, others will observe you having difficulties with:
Getting from one place to another
Spacing letters and words on paper
7. Visual Closure Issues
If my visual closure skills are intact, I’m able to deduce what an object is, even when I only see part of that object.
However, if I’m struggling with visual closure, you’ll notice that I have difficulties:
Recognizing a picture of a familiar object from a partial image. Example: A truck without its wheels
Identifying a word with a letter missing
Recognizing a face when one feature (such as the nose) is missing
How Can I Get Help For Visual Processing Disorder?
Thanks to my colleague, Violet, for this helpful information:
It is important to find out what a person’s visual processing issues are. Several issues are commonly found in those with other autism challenges, but it’s is not a direct 1:1 connection. Professionals that assess this are include OT’s (occupational therapists) with training and experience in SI (sensory integration ) and developmental optometrist.
Optometrists, in my experience, (in my local area) are more likely than ophthalmologists to assess how the eyes work together ( aka- perception or processing ) while ophthalmologists assess vision from the perspective of eye health ( aka vision).
Treatment of processing issues is another story . I have seen “developmental optometrist ” used to indicate an emphasis on treatment. As in there are pediatric / adult ophthalmologists, optometrists, and developmental optometrists. Some of this depends on where you live, state health laws, and special education laws.
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